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Press release

Samuel Palmer (1805–1881): Vision and Landscape

Exhibition dates: March 7 – May 29, 2006
Location: Galleries for Drawings, Prints, and Photographs
Press preview: Monday, March 6, 10:00 – noon

Samuel Palmer ranks among the most important British landscape painters of the Romantic era. Marking the 200th anniversary of the artist's birth, Samuel Palmer (1805–1881): Vision and Landscape is the first major retrospective of his work in nearly 80 years, uniting some 100 of his finest watercolors, drawings, etchings, and oils from public and private collections in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and the United States. The exhibition highlights the artist's celebrated early work, executed in a visionary style inspired by William Blake, and re-examines Palmer's vibrant middle-period Italian studies and masterful late watercolors and etchings. It also includes a selection of works by artists in Palmer's circle. Samuel Palmer will be on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from March 7 through May 29.

The exhibition is made possible by Gilbert and Ildiko Butler.

Additional support has been provided by William G. and Grace Brantley Anderson; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; and The Schiff Foundation.

The exhibition was organized by The British Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Organized chronologically, the exhibition will place special emphasis on the artist's early work, made during his youthful friendship with the older poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake. Visionary in subject, intimate in mood, rich in texture, and brilliant in hue, these compelling "Shoreham period" works exhibit a wholly original style that remains fresh to 21st-century eyes. This section of the exhibition will include unprecedented loans to the U.S., including such priceless masterpieces as Palmer's celebrated Self-Portrait (Ashmolean Museum), The Valley Thick with Corn (Ashmolean Museum), In a Shoreham Garden (Victoria & Albert Museum), and The Sleeping Shepherd (private collection).

The exhibition will also explore Palmer's embrace of a more naturalistic vision in the years of his early maturity. During this period, Palmer captured the striking landscapes of Wales, Italy, and the southern coast of England in sketches and watercolors. This portion of the exhibition will feature significant works such as Tintern Abbey (Victoria & Albert Museum), The Cypresses at the Villa d'Este (Yale Center for British Art), and A View of Ancient Rome (Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery).

Samuel Palmer will feature an unrivalled selection of large, vibrant landscapes from Palmer's later maturity, including such treasures of British art as Christian Descending into the Valley of Humiliation (Ashmolean Museum), King Arthur's Castle, Tintagel, Cornwall (Ashmolean Museum), and The Lonely Tower (Huntington Library and Art Gallery). It will conclude with a new examination of Palmer's extraordinary achievement as a printmaker, whose shimmering etchings transport the viewer to exquisite worlds. In prints such as The Skylark, The Weary Ploughman, and The Bellman, the bold imagination of Palmer's youth returns, refined by the wisdom of experience.

Exhibition Credits and Catalogue
Samuel Palmer (1805–1881): Vision and Landscape has been organized by William Vaughan, Professor of the History of Art at Birbeck College, University of London, in collaboration with Metropolitan Museum Associate Curator Constance McPhee, and former Metropolitan Associate Curator Elizabeth Barker. The exhibition is currently on view at The British Museum in London.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by The British Museum Press. It includes essays by William Vaughn, Elizabeth Barker, and Colin Harrison, Curator, Department of Fine Art, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, with six additional essays contributed by leading scholars. The catalogue is available in the Metropolitan Museum's book shops.

Educational Programs
A variety of educational programs will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition, including gallery talks, a scholars' day, and a Saturday at the Met afternoon of lectures and literary readings on April 1, 2006.

The exhibition will be featured on the Musem's website (

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